WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES Review
Movies , Reviews / July 13, 2017

In a time when the terms “prequel” and “reboot” are treated like swear words in film communities, the new Planet of the Apes series stands as a proud example of what these can be. This conclusion of Caesar’s chronicle is an achievement in storytelling, effects work, and sound and builds upon the groundwork of the past two installments. However, where ‘War’ really stands out in cinema is in emotion and being able to convey important morals. In 2034 (8 years since the events of ‘Dawn’ & 15 years since ‘Rise’), the genetically enhanced ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) is still working to keep the rest of the apes safe from humans lead by the ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson). After a devastating attack, Caesar, accompanied by a handful of others, goes on a mission to end this war and avenge his kind. To get right to the point, this movie is so satisfying and emotional. It really wraps up this prequel story very in a way that will leave audiences really touched. It is far more than your run-of-the-mill blockbuster. It brings to life the nuanced question of what it means to be human and how we value our “humanity”. The morals…

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING Review
Reviews / July 6, 2017

With great intellectual property rights comes great responsibility. Marvel and Sony are finally working together to bring us a Spider-Man movie set in the popular, ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe (which is the 16th movie in the massive franchise). The movie has all of the fun and excitement that are standard fare in the MCU while also taking Spidey in a fresh direction. After the epic events of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (though it still isn’t entirely clear in what year this takes place), Peter Parker is trying to balance his life as a friendly neighborhood superhero and a normal high school student. He discovers a criminal group lead by Adrian Toomes (aka The Vulture) and has to work to stop them. The movie does a clever job of keeping this plot lines working together. It never feels like the movie gets distracted or can’t handle its different tones. In actuality, the film’s over arching plot of Peter trying to prove his self worth feels self-referential of Spider-Man’s disappointing recent history in cinema. Following five feature films, this is a new type of Spider-Man. He is involved in activities that we haven’t seen from this character before. We get to…

WONDER WOMAN Review
Reviews / June 1, 2017

Warner Bros. DC Extended Universe has finally produced a good, solid movie. It has taken four movies over four years, but ‘Wonder Woman’ has broken the mold to be an adventure for audiences, fans, and critics to all enjoy. DC has taken a step back to focusing on plot and character in order to craft a grounded story separate from their past three attempts. Despite it not being perfect, this first modern female superhero film is inspiring, engaging, and a great improvement from the numb grittiness of DC’s universe. ‘Wonder Woman’ takes us back to her origins as a young goddess living with the Amazons and then joining a spy for the British to help end World War I and defeat Aries, the god of war. This change of setting helps to make this distinct from DC’s other installments and keeps it fresh, bright, and colorful. The “World War setting as an origin for a superhero prequel movie preparing for an upcoming major team up film” can make it seem from afar like it is similar to the first Captain America movie The movie does have typical prequel issues since we know that Wonder Woman won’t die and we can…

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS Review
Reviews / April 12, 2017

With the arrival of the 8th Fast & Furious movie it is clear that this franchise is far from running out of gas. Toward the beginning, Dom says about a weighed down car “remove everything that isn’t the engine”. In that spirit, all the staples that keep people come back to this series are here including (naturally) tricked out cars, global locales, family, high stakes, disrespect for physics, unconventional names for titles, muscular leads, and plenty of insane action. But the movie stays fresh by breaking out of its mold in several key ways. ‘The Fate of the Furious’ sets Dom (Vin Diesel) at odds with his “family”. He is working for a rogue mastermind (Charlize Theron) while the rest of the team must be both fast and furious in order to stop her and Dom from starting a world war. It is admittedly predictable at times and a lot of the plot makes little sense, but it is still fun and the strong pacing keeps the momentum going from beginning to end. With the main character turned antagonist, this gives room for the side characters to shine. Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), Tez (Ludicris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Deckard…

THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
Reviews / February 9, 2017

This is the Batman that we need and deserve right now. Following up on the unexpected success of The Lego Movie, Warner Bros. has combined the world of toy building blocks with one of the most popular and pervasive characters of fiction. This movie is exactly what DC and their fans needed. It is a fresh take on the Caped Crusader, has a lot of heart, features fun characters, and (unlike every other DC movie) is endlessly funny. Batman / Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) once again saves Gotham city from a staggeringly broad rogues gallery, but soon learns that he needs more than just himself. He adopts Dick Greyson aka Robin (Michael Cera) and realizes that he is struggling with becoming part of a family again. Meanwhile the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) has another nefarious plan in his quest to defeat his archenemy. Plus, the new Gotham commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawon) is working to make Gotham safer without relying on Batman. With all this going on, our hero certainly has a lot to deal with. Like following the instructions for a new Lego set, the plot does occasionally, feel rather safe and predictable. The casting is pretty spot on. The…

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Review
Reviews / January 20, 2017

After more than 11 years, we get the 3rd xXx movie and it’s hard to know what purpose is intended with this movie. Is it here so that Paramount can retain rights to one of the few franchises they have? Is it so that Vin Diesel’s other movies this year look better by comparison? Is this simply a large vat where all of the bad ideas from the increasingly popular Fast & Furious franchise can be dumped? More importantly though, do the producers have anything else on their minds than infeasible feats, girls in bikinis, and showing off people’s muscles? It may have a few creative stunts, but ultimately the movie is unoriginal, boring, poorly conceived, and obsolete. As is made extremely clear in the marketing material, Vin Diesel plays Xander Cage. This is not a stretch for Diesel at all as we’ve seen this same type of character from him over and over. Even though the name Xander Cage has not been heard by audiences in over a decade, his costars still treat him like a character equal to James Bond or Jason Bourne. Regardless, Cage gathers together a group of “the good, the extreme, and the completely insane”…

LA LA LAND Review
Reviews / December 14, 2016

‘La La Land‘ is a glorious and masterful piece of cinematic art. Damien Chazelle, who directed last year’s bold ‘Whiplash’, gives us another The main characters are vibrant and well fleshed out, the cinematography and lighting are among the very best that audiences have seen making each shot dynamically picturesque, and (of course) Justin Hurwitz’s original songs are all very fun and deeply drive both the scene’s message and emotion home. This type of delightful and original entertainment is what critics and audiences have been craving, and the perfect emotional feel good movie for both this holiday season and all year round. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress living in LA (those letters, of course, make up 75% of the title) who is currently stuck being a barista and being constantly rejected at auditions. She meets the passionate jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who is also pursuing his dream of owning a jazz club (which, for some reason, also must serve chicken). Through persistance, compromise, and several musical numbers their relationship and dreams begin to blossom. As Sebastian enthusiastically proclaims “it’s conflict and compromise and it’s very very exciting!”. The plot and characters are relatable without feeling cliche or…

MOANA Review
Movies , Reviews / December 14, 2016

We are truly in the middle of the next Disney renaissance. Disney animation has hit another home run with their latest feature, ‘Moana’. This story continues their long legacy of being fun for the whole family, with state of the art animation, catchy songs, timeless messages, and characters that audiences will love. This new adventure directed by John Musker and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet) subverts other aspects of the genre focuses on the past of the Pacific Islander culture while still being a movie for everyone to enjoy. In Moana, the egotistical demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson) had stolen the life-giving heart of the sea with devastating consequences. The courageous titular character (Auli’i Cravalho) then must leave her safe island home for the first time in order to convince Maui to be a hero and help restore life to the world. They go an adventure across the ocean helping each other achieve their potential while encountering dangers along the way. The plot is solely driven by the two lead characters and their individual missions, which keeps the movie very focused without any distracting or downright unnecessary side plots. The movie also boasts a refreshing lack of…

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